I’ve gone off the deep end of DIY. Making your own butter isn’t a hobby, it’s an obsession. So is making your own yogurt.
I also make my own beer, keep a kitchen garden, and use homemade cloth wipes on my baby.
Folks, I just might be morphing into (gasp!) a homesteader.
Now, before you pigeonhole me as an urban homesteading extremist who harvests her own wheat, raises chickens in her garage, and keeps a couple of goats under her front porch, let me stop you. I draw the line at chickens.
My passion for DIY is slowly transforming me into an urban homesteader, or one who lives self-sufficiently and practices urban agriculture.
Homesteading is a very rewarding practice and it can save you a lot of money in food and energy costs, as well as save you on potential healthcare costs down the road. In fact, many homesteaders have turned their urban agriculture hobby into a full-fledged business.
To decode the mysterious and wonderful world of homesteading, I’ve compiled a list of the best homesteading resources.
This is perhaps the best known example of urban homesteading. The Dervaes family of four grows 3 tons of organic produce each year on 4,000 square feet of dirt.
The majority of their energy comes from solar panels, and they supplement with olive oil lamps and homemade candles.
They also raise bees and small livestock, use herbal medicine, and limit toilet flushings. The Dervaes’ pull in about $40,000 a year from the sale of produce, seeds, and eco-goods.
The family’s website and blog are a treasure trove of inspiration, advice, and homesteading resources.
Mother Earth News
This is the longest-running sustainable lifestyle magazine. From green homes, to natural health, to renewable energy, Mother Earth News covers all aspects of homesteading with detailed reporting.
Much of the content is available for free online, or you can subscribe (six issues for $10).
This is a hip blog that is easy on the eyes and has inspiring personal stories, too.
It is written by two friends, one who lives in Brooklyn and one who farms in New Jersey, who both make a living homesteading.
Topics include beekeeping, mycology, and home brewing. It’s more of a personal journal than a complete guidebook to homesteading.
Kitchen Gardeners International
This website features gardening tips, recipes, and a lively blog. Try the 30-day free garden planner, which lets you move beds, add produce, and fine tune the layout of your garden.
If you love the garden planner, it’s $25 for one year or $40 for two years, and teachers get five years for $40.
The Prairie Homestead
This blog has an engaging, can-do attitude. Plus, how can you not love a blog that has a section devoted to “Goat 101”?
The author, Jill Winger, wrote a 79-page eBook called “The Custom Homestead” that is a guide to kick-starting your own homestead.
Her attitude is that you can be a homesteader whatever your living situation, whether you have 100 acres at your disposal or just a fire escape.
The National Center for Home Food Preservation
Use this no nonsense guide for extremely detailed information on canning and preserving food, including free online courses.
The site also has resources for curing, pickling, freezing, and drying foods.
In a nutshell, this is a forum site, plain and simple. There are 44 different forums with thousands of threads under each.
The site has a lively membership, with some threads receiving hundreds of comments within a few hours of being posted.
The site is free to use, but you’ll need to register for unfettered access.
The online resource is a collection of free articles written by dozens of contributors on 29 subjects related to homesteading. The website is basic – you can search either by topic or author – but the information is practical and well-written.
I got sucked into the article “Making Cheese is Fun” and “A Country Girl’s Best Friend (Vinegar & Baking Soda).”
Don’t let the site’s outdated appearance fool you: there is a lot to learn there.
Top 10 Homesteading Books
It’s silly to recommend the best book on homesteading because homesteading encompasses a wide variety of skills and tasks, from animal husbandry to energy efficiency.
However, Lauren Ware of About.com has assembled her top 10 homesteading books, starting with the classic, “The Encyclopedia of Country Living” by Carla Emery.
Her list is an excellent reference for even more homesteading resources.
Julia Scott founded BargainBabe.com, which shares daily freebies and inspiration to save money.